Urban Cycling: The Beginning
Last weekend I found myself in San Francisco for a race, a ride, and court. After spending almost two years on the CA/NV border, I’ve made a few trips to the City but this time I was super psyched to have brought my bike along. It promised to be a great weekend of stuff white people like, riding, and arguing for my clients in the face of the incredibly stacked legal system.
Friday night the organizers had emailed that Saturday’s Mt. Tam hill climb race would be canceled due to extreme fire danger, but I tried to make the best of it and headed out for a ride. After picking my way through the Presidio I tackled the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. As I made the curves around the pylons (bikes must ride on the sidewalk across the bridge), I was almost blown off my bike and simultaneously lost all of my forward momentum. I thought that Davis was the windy place, where headwinds substitute for hills, but maybe SF has some wind training to offer also. I contemplated going back and forth across the bridge a couple of times just to practice dodging people and dealing with the wind but I quickly came to my senses and continued on. About the time that I’d planned to turn around I started to find a rhythm between dodging the overweight men with hairy legs and stopping at traffic lights. Passing a swanky looking cafe near Sausalito, I quickly realized that I could probably use a little fuel to battle the wind back over the bridge. The stop yielded an amazing macchiato and the most expensive yet least sweet donut I’ve ever consumed.
As I motored on, I caught up to a couple of guys who were going at a decent clip up the rollers back to the bridge. Nipping on their heels, I decided to tuck in behind them so that I didn’t make a wrong turn. That plan lasted all of two minutes until we round a corner and were blasted by the wind. The skinny men were somehow able to keep up momentum as I was slowed to a crawl. Ugh–perhaps they’re from Davis. The bridge crossing seemed windier the second time and a bit more daunting since the sun had disappeared into the fog.
Cruising back into the City, I felt at ease and ready for battle–with traffic. I had put away my ipod in the first few minutes of my ride and started tuning in to everything going on around me. Repeatedly the hills stole my reward–why must there be a Stop sign at the bottom of each. Did they not think of cyclists battling their way up, only to wear out their brakes on the way down?
I carried my bike up the stairs to where I was staying and retreated indoors. I had survived my first city ride.